Every telecom service provider worth their salt is aggressively promoting their 3G or 3rd generation services – Vodafone, Idea, Reliance, Airtel – all are heavily investing in various communication initiatives. Ads on 3G services are inundating all media platforms.
Going back a little, it was in December 2008 that India entered the 3G realm with the launch of 3G enabled mobile and data services by Government-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) in Delhi and later in Mumbai. After MTNL, another state operator, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) launched 3G services in February 2009 in Chennai and later nationwide. The auction of 3G wireless spectrum was announced in April 2010 and 3G spectrum was allocated to all private operators on September 1, 2010.
The first private-sector service provider to launch 3G services was Tata DoCoMo, in November 2010, followed by Reliance Communications on December 13, 2010. Then, Bharti Airtel ventured into the 3G domain in January 2011, launching its services in Bangalore, followed by Delhi and Jaipur on March 4, 2011(this was not GSM but via USB stick). Aircel launched its 3G in Kolkata in February 2011. Vodafone entered the 3G domain in mid-March 2011, followed by Idea Cellular in mid-April 2011.
While every advertiser is trying to leverage 3G technology to the fullest, one does wonder, how much of a difference 3G is making and can make in the future for brands as well as consumers.
‘My 3G is better that yours’
According to Sandip Tarkas, President (Customer Strategy), Future Group and CEO Future Media, “In concept 3G campaigns are quite good, but the feature in itself is a disappointment. All the hype is unnecessary. Though in terms of campaign, Vodafone ZooZoos Rajnikant are my favourites.”
Partha Sinha, Managing Partner, BBH India, admitted that he really couldn’t fathom the strategies. “It’s either my 3G is better/ faster than your 3G or selling attributes/ benefits in a FMCGisque manner. 3G is a technology, so experience is everything. And the brands had an opportunity to create the invitational world of 3G experience. Much like what good tech brands like Google or Apple do. Unfortunately, everyone ended up doing an advertising strategy – frankly ad strategy is not half as critical as engaging people with behaviour changing experiences. Haven’t seen much of that stuff,” he noted.
Sinha felt that all of them used the same strategy – faster, stronger, video data, which were all product attributes – and hence, not much strategy was needed. He stressed that it all boiled down to the execution. Like Tarkas, Sinha too likes the Rajnikanth of ZooZoos ad, “but as a pure entertainment piece”, he insisted, adding, “It has nothing to do with what Vodafone offers in their 3G service.”
Idea Cellular’s latest ad in which it promotes its 3G service as a means to control population in the country by providing entertainment and connectivity even during power cuts has managed to break through the clutter of 3G ads. The concept is innovative and the underlying humour can’t be missed. No wonder, the ad has been much appreciated not just by viewers but creative people as well.
Elaborating on the Idea ads, Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, explained, “Idea brand campaigns have always celebrated ‘Champion ideas’, which have the power to change the society and the way we live. This time, the Champion idea is 3G which has a strong entertainment appeal, and has been designed to resonate with the larger audience on a critical subject that looms large on the country. On the other hand, it also promotes some of our 3G-based mobile applications. We have planned a 360 degree communication programme to promote the campaign and drive awareness.”
Keep it simple, stupid
Grey Worldwide, on the other hand, has kept it simple for client Reliance’s 3G promotions. The ad features two creatives – the ‘no pixilation’ film has a cute little girl reciting the nursery rhyme ‘I’m a little teapot’, while the ‘zero buffer time’ film shows a girl getting frustrated while trying to sing the song ‘Roo Ba Roo’ from the iconic movie Rang De Basanti’, until she switches to Reliance 3G.
Speaking on the two ads, Malvika Mehra, National Creative Director, Grey India, pointed out, “There is so much of ‘tech jargon’ surrounding communication for 3G these days. If you keep the average geek aside, honestly a lot of people don’t really get what this creature called 3G actually is. We wanted to demonstrate the ‘superiority’ of Reliance 3G in a manner that was first and foremost simple. Of course, it also had to be engaging and effective. With both these TVCs – ‘pixel’ and ‘buffer’, I personally think we’ve achieved that.”
Mehra further said that she silently observed reactions of friends and family as they watched these films and found all of them subconsciously reaching for the remotes, thinking there was something wrong with the left side of their TV sets. “What better way than that to demonstrate the idea and urge them to switch to the right side – the one with the ‘Reliance 3G’ network,” she exclaimed, adding that these were the first set in a series of films that Grey had done for Reliance 3G this season. And there would be more.
A new technology is always leveraged best by advertisers in order to reach the consumer. 3G is also one of those technologies that every advertiser wants to pull to the optimum. In terms of concept and creative, it is being highly appreciated by the consumers and the industry. But when it comes to the actual technology and its efficiency, neither the industry nor the consumer is very sure.